The AIDS epidemic has entered its third decade worldwide. The global HIV/AIDS epidemic killed more than 3.1 million people in 2004, and an estimated 4.9 million acquired the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)—bringing to 39.4 million the number of people living with the virus around the world.4 There were around 42 million people globally living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2002 (UNAIDS 2002). HIV/AIDS is now the leading cause of death in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the fourth main killer globally. Life expectancy has been cut by more than 10 years due to HIV/AIDS infection in several countries (UNAIDS 2001). The increasing speed of the spread of the epidemic increases the importance of the problem. Current projections suggest that an additional 45 million people will become infected with HIV in 126 low- and middle-income countries between 2002 and 2010, unless the world succeeds in mounting a drastically expanded, global prevention effort.
In recent years, the Europe and Central Asia (ECA) region has seen the world’s fastest growing HIV/AIDS epidemic due to a sharp increase in injecting drug use (IDU). A number of recent studies have pointed at the urgent need for action to manage the spread of HIV/AIDS
4. UNAIDS (2004) provides estimates based on the best available information and gives boundaries within which actual numbers lie. Thus, the number of people newly infected with HIV in 2004 is between 4.3 and 6.4 million; the number of AIDS death in 2004 is between 2.8 and 3.5 million; and the number of people living with HIV/AIDS in 2004 is between 35.9–44.3 million.